While the City Sleeps (1956)

Not Rated  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  30 May 1956 (USA)
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Reviews: 61 user | 19 critic

A serial killer has been killing beautiful women in New York, and the new owner of a media company offers a high ranking job to the 1st administrator who can get the earliest scoops on the case.



(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dorothy Kyne
Mark Loving
Jon Day Griffith
Walter Kyne
Robert Manners (as John Barrymore Jr.)
'Honest' Harry Kritzer
Mildred Donner
Robert Warwick ...
Amos Kyne
Mrs. Manners
Ralph Peters ...
Gerald Meade
Sandra White ...
Judith Felton (as Sandy White)
Larry J. Blake ...
Tim - Police Desk Sergeant (as Larry Blake)


Death of media magnat Amos Kyne is causing power struggle between his executives. In the meantime New York women become prey of a serial killer. Reporter Edward Mobley is in that circumstances faced with almost impossible missions: to catch the killer, to prevent the media empire from falling into the wrong hands and to save his romantic relationship from break-up. Written by Dragan Antulov <dragan.antulov@altbbs.fido.hr>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Suspense as startling as a strangled scream ! See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

30 May 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

News Is Made at Night  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

2.00 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The sequence depicting the New York subway was actually filmed in the Los Angeles subway. See more »


When Harry, Nancy and Dorothy are in Nancy's apartment, the shadow of the boom microphone can be seen moving above the curtained entryway to another room. See more »


Ed Mobely: Get your things off. It's your wedding day, you wanna look nice.
See more »


Edited into Histoire(s) du cinéma: Toutes les histoires (1988) See more »

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User Reviews

We Have To Do More Than Keep Media Giants From Growing Larger; They Were Already Too Big In 1956.
29 November 2009 | by (Cincinnati, OH, United States) – See all my reviews

Media mogul Amos Kyne dies at the inception of a juicy item about a sex killer designated the Lipstick Killer. Amos orders his newspaper chief to hustle all out with that story. Amos's megacorp domain is comprised of a major newspaper, a television station, and a wire news service. It's bequeathed to his singular beneficiary, his pariah son Vincent Price, who hits the ground running to establish that he's not his father's imbecile offspring by devising a new top executive position to act as his man Friday and run the whole enterprise, and grants the candidacy to be among the city editor played with Thomas Mitchell's infectious presence, the head of the wire service played with George Sanders' Transatlantic adaptation of his unabashedly British persona, and the photo editor played with James Craig's old-fashioned American masculinity. The plotting Sanders and the factotum Mitchell egotistically vie for the job and struggle to crack the headline murder case, feeling that the one who solves that case will get the job. At the same time, Craig is having an affair with Walter's eye-popping wife Rhonda Fleming, and hopes to get the job through her seductive wiles. Pulitzer-winning reporter and the station's commentator, played by the always appealing laid-back Dana Andrews, is unwilling to get involved, but after all does and signs on to help his close friend Mitchell.

Fritz Lang's 22nd English-language film, which itself, interestingly, is a conglomeration of film noir, psychological thriller and sociopolitical drama, is a complete observation of the modern media. It applies to a media empire which merges newspapers, wire services, photography and television. All of these come under acute and generally cynical analysis in this film. The utter notion that so many different media are all amalgamated in one company scares this film's forever socially concerned director Fritz Lang, who sees the makings of fascistic tyranny here, something of which his own first-hand experience surely made him particularly wary.

The K symbol that is everywhere in While the City Sleeps as the insignia of a media empire. One recalls that in real life, the CBS eye was part of the first successful corporate logo and corporate identity crusade of any modern corporation. It is intriguing that Lang, with his eye consistently scanning for the cutting edge of communications, would give the media empire in his film such a syndicated characteristic. Real corporate media offices look significantly flashier than the dishwater headquarters of the media in Lang's film.

The media show up in other, more esoteric ways, as well. The bar is rife with photographs, ostensibly of celebrities who've stopped off at it. The photo-viewer maneuvered by Ida Lupino, who plays Sanders' star journalist with detached intensity, evinces Lang's strong interest in new media. Even the car chase at the end of the film involves a car knocking over a mailbox, part of the broadcasting framework of contemporary civilization.

Somehow the killer, who is psychologically troubled and cannot help himself, is treated in a more sensitive depiction than any of the cutthroat newspaper people. He is played by John Drew Barrymore in a vivacious and edgy performance. He is sporadically seen, but with intrigue as we almost always see him alone, and even once at his home with his mother, a wrenchingly sad scene. Even the story's apparently most upright character, Dana Andrews, utilizes his girlfriend to get what he wants, which is not necessarily worlds apart from what Craig's character does. The essence of the story is seen through the glass-walled newspaper offices and all the deceitful day-to-day goings-on there are disclosed, as Lang secures his most severe reckoning on the indiscriminately aggressive newspaper people who could so easily forfeit their dignity for control, fanfare and affluence.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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